As we head into the NBA All-Star Break, it’s a good time to take a close look at your fantasy squad and make the necessary adjustments to take yourself to a championship.
In this week’s Fantasy Edge, I’ll take a look at five numbers for five All-Stars and see if it means anything moving forward.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is No.1
In standard fantasy points leagues, Giannis, who was also the All-Star Game captain for getting the most votes, is sitting marginally ahead of James Harden in points leagues averaging 57.65 points.
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Remarkably, he is playing only 31 minutes compared to Harden’s 37 minutes.
Giannis, as well as leading the league in fantasy points, also has the best fantasy point per minute rate of the entire league at a staggering 1.87 points per minute. You don’t trade away Giannis in any points league.
Russell Westbrook is on a tear
Since the Rockets have been without Clint Capela, Westbrook has really taken off. Since Capela was hurt/traded on January 26 (last time he played decent minutes), Westbrook has averaged 1.56 fantasy points per minutes.
Prior to that, he was averaging 1.43 points per minute. That’s a 10 per cent increase in per-minute production for Russ since the Rockets went all small ball, all the time, and there is no reason to think the Rockets are going to be changing anything up the rest of the way.
We could be getting top five Russ the rest of the way.
Ben Simmons leads the NBA in steals
For all the talk about Ben Simmons not shooting threes, he has hit two this season, he has been an elite defender. Simmons leads the NBA in steals, swiping 115 steals over the course of the season, 14 more than the next highest Kris Dunn.
Simmons also leads the league in steals per game with 2.2 and is second in deflections with 4.1 per game. He is also 16th in fantasy scoring averaging 43.60 fantasy points. Yes, Joel Embiid being around has an impact on his overall production, but Simmons finds a way to be an excellent fantasy option.
First time All-Star Rudy Gobert in a slump
It’s about time for Gobert to be playing in the All-Star game after many dominant defensive seasons, but as we head up to the game, Gobert’s numbers are a little down. He is the 44th ranked player over the last two weeks which looks poor in contrast to his rank of 22 over the course of the season.
Why? A number of reasons. His usage dipped a little bit with Mike Conley returning, so he is scoring only 13.8 points, but also he has seen his steals, assists, and blocks all drop off in the last six games.
He is only four points fewer in those six games, but it goes to show how closely everyone is tightly packed in rankings where a four-point difference equates a 20 spot ranking drop.
Nikola Jokić is putting up big numbers
Before we head into the break, it’s worth looking at Jokić’s numbers. He was a big disappointment through October and most of November after being a consensus fantasy first-round pick.
But, now? Now, he is rolling. In his last seven games, Jokić is the league’s number three player and is playing a whopping 36 minutes a night. That’s well up on the 32 minutes he is averaging for the season. Why is that? Well, the Nuggets have been without Paul Millsap and are still without Michael Porter Jr., Mason Plumlee and Will Barton.
Without these members of the rotation, Jokić has taken on a larger load and that has pushed him to average 53.66 fantasy points over the last month. That is almost eight points higher than his season average. You have to think when those players all return and get back to their usual minute load, Jokić will not be relied upon to do everything as he has been of late and his numbers may regress a little, making a fantasy sell high.
Every week, I’ll be looking at some weird trends across the NBA and seeing what they mean, so make sure you’re checking out The Edge, here every Friday.